An Indian farmer
An Indian farmer is one of the most important members of society. He is the giver of food to the people, to all practical purposes.
He gets up early in the morning and goes to his fields. Nowadays in a number of states, the days of ploughing the fields with the help of oxen are almost over except for the farmers who are too poor to purchase a tractor.
The farmer has many kinds of works to do. He ploughs his fields. He sows the seeds. He waters the fields regularly. He has to take care of the crops. He has to protect them against hail and frost. He has to apply compost and fertilizers. He has also to sprinkle insecticides and pesticides to protect the crops against pests and insects.
Most of the old farmers are illiterate. But the farmers of the new generation are mostly educated. Their being educated helps them a lot. They get the soil of their fields tested in a laboratory.
Most of the farmers are not interested in free electricity and water. They rather want an uninterrupted supply of electricity for which they are ready to pay.
Small farmers should also start some cottage industries. Crop rotation system and contract crop system has been started in some states. Such steps are in the right direction and will help the farmers in the long run.
Essay No. 2
The Indian Farmer
India is a an agricultural country. More than 75% of its population lives in villages. People work as farmers. But it is pity that our farmer lives in poverty though he is the back-bone of our country. He works hard and gets little to eat.
The present condition of Indian farmer is very bad. He is too poor to have some comforts of life. he has very few clothes. He lives in an ordinary house. It is made of mud. It is not properly ventilated. It is dark and unhealthy. Our farmer is ignorant. He lives in dirt. He does not know the importance of cleanliness. He is open to diseases.
The Indian farmer is very hardworking. He is very honest. He works in the fields from morning till evening. The scorching heat of the sun. the cold winter winds and the heavy rain cannot stop him from doing his work outside the house. He is the son of the nature.
The Indian farmer is quite ignorant. He still follows the old methods of agriculture. Owing to t his poverty and ignorance, he cannot (or does not) make use of scientific implements and fertilizers as well. Indian agriculture is dependedent on the monsoon. Very often it fails, sometimes it destroys his standing crops. Thus monsoon betrays our farmers. Frequently, rains cause floods which destroy crops. Thus we see that poverty and ignorance are two great curses for the Indian farmer.
The remedy of the Indian farmer’s backwardness lies in spreading literacy among the farmers. Government should help them with money, implements and good seeds. There should be good arrangements for irrigation also.
It is a matter of great pleasure that today Government is doing is best to help the Indian farmer. His position has now improved. He is now buying better agricultural implements, good seeds and fertilizers. The old out- dated plough is now being replaced by the tractor.
In the days of English rule the farmer was in the clutches of money lenders and land lords. But now the position is changed. The government , co- operative societies an d banks are helping our farmers. These three agencies have brought revolution in rural credit.
Distribution of surplus land, consolidation of land holdings, implementation of ceiling laws and other land reforms have brought about a change in the status of Indian farmer. Welfare measures like spread of education , electrification and supply of water, building of roads, schools and hospitals have raised the standards of living of the farmer. Now he lives in the pucca houses and puts on better clothes. He looks very cheerful. If our farmers and we should co- operate our government, the conditions of the Indian farmer will improve in the future.
Essay No. 3
The Indian Farmer
India is an agricultural country. Majority of its population lives in villages and depend on agriculture. The Indian farmer is the backbone of the society. His importance in the economy of the country cannot be over-emphasized. He grows corn, vegetables and fruits for our food and cotton for our clothes.
The Indian farmer is a hard working man. He works form morning till evening in the scorching heat and biting cold. Early in the morning he drives his oxen to the fields. He ploughs the fields, sows seeds and waters the plants. An Indians famer depends on monsoon. He looks after the crops and saves them from being spoiled by stray cattle or wild animals. He enjoys no holyday. At noon he takes his meals under a shady tree and then takes a little rest. In the evening he returns home, tired and exhausted.
The Indian farmer leads a simple life. he lives in a mud house, eats simple food and wears coarse clothes. Generally he is illiterate. He believes in old customs and superstitions. His cattle are his most valuable property. Often during drought crops fail and he is in trouble. When the crop ripens, he feels happy. He reaps it, thrashes it and takes the corn to the market. In times of a bad harvest he had little money to buy seeds and manure and he runs into debt.
An Indian farmer earns his bread by the sweet of this brow. He is never idle. Our late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri gave us the slogan, “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”, underlying the fact that farmer is an important as a soldier. Really he deserves a better treatment. More educational , medical and irrigational facilities should be provided to him. On him depends the well- being of the whole nation. In the real sense of the term, a farmer is the actual bread giver of the nation.
The farmer is fond of festivities. He spends lavishly on marriages and others social ceremonies. Recently , the use of agricultural machinery and chemical manures and the provision of credit facilities by cooperative societies and rural banks has improved his lot and changed his outlook on life.
In spite of being independent for the last more than fifty years we have not be able to improve the lot to Indian farmer. Most of them still live under the poverty line. They do not get full return of their yield and they continue to be poor and neglected. The biggest industry of India are not attracted towards the profession as it does not guarantee a prosperous living to them. The development in Science and Technology have not been able to make agriculture an enviable profession. This is the reason of the biggest problem of this land, that is, unemployment. If modernized on a large scale it can employ all the unemployed youths and the country will be for more prosperous than we dream about it.
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The stark observation made in the Economic Survey of 2015-16 that “Indian agriculture, is in a way, a victim of its own past success – especially the green revolution”, shows the dark reality of the agriculture sector at present and the havoc that has been wreaked by the green revolution.
The green revolution, which is often characterised by the introduction of high-yielding variety of seeds and fertilisers, undoubtedly increased the productivity of land considerably. But the growth in the productivity has been stagnant in recent years, resulting in a significant decline in the income of farmers. There have also been negative environmental effects in the form of depleting water table, emission of greenhouse gases, and the contamination of surface and ground water. Needless to say, the agriculture sector is in a state of distress, which is severely affecting peasants and marginal farmers, and urgent policy interventions are required to protect their interests.
The government has responded to the problem by constituting a panel, which will recommend ways to double the income of farmers by 2022. While this may be an overtly ambitious target, if we want to boost stagnated agricultural growth a shift has to be made, as finance minister Arun Jaitley said in parliament, from food security of the nation to income security of the farmers. However, there are many hurdles that have to be crossed if we want to achieve this objective.
Rainbow revolution holds the key
The first major barrier to overcome is declining productivity. Data from 2013 reveals that India’s average yield of cereal per hectare is far less than that of many countries (including several low income countries), but the difference is huge when compared to China. For instance, our average yield per hectare is 39% below than that of China and for rice this figure is 46%. Even Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia fare better than India in case of rice yield. Further, there is a huge inter-regional variation; the wheat and rice yield from Haryana and Punjab is much higher than from the other states.
In order to cross the declining productivity barrier there is a need to herald a rainbow revolution by making a shift from wheat-rice cycle to other cereals and pulses. Since wheat and rice coupled with other crops are backed by minimum support prices (MSP) and input subsidy (whether water, fertiliser or power) regime, there is a huge incentive for the farmers in the irrigated region of Northwest India to grow these crops.
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These crops are not only input intensive, but also have negative environmental consequences in the form of depleting water table and the emission of green house gases. The policy response to this problem has always been to disincentivise farmers from growing these crops by making meagre enhancements in the MSP. However, this is not sufficient and has to be complemented with huge investment in public infrastructure. For example, due to the rice milling industry in Haryana and Punjab, there is now a proper established market in place for different varieties of rice that also incentivises farmers to cultivate paddy. Until such a marketplace is not created for other cereals and pulses, farmers are unlikely to make a shift to cereals and pulses.
Per drop more crop
The second major barrier is the scarcity of two major resources for agriculture – cultivable land and water. While the cultivable land per person is declining because of the fragmentation of farms due to rising population, India also has much less per capita water as compared to other leading agrarian countries. This problem exacerbated because India has been exporting virtual water embedded in crops, which is marked by its feature of non-replenishment. Once it is exported, it cannot be recovered. According to a report by Prashant Goswami and Shiv Narayan Nishad, in 2010, India exported about 25 cu km of water embedded in its agriculture exports, which is about 1% of the available water every year.
Given this scenario, it is time to make a shift to micro irrigation so that the efficient and judicious use of scarce water resources can be made. A study conducted by the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture on micro irrigation in 64 districts of 13 states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand), reveals that there were significant reductions in the use of water and fertiliser but the yield of crops increased up to 45% in wheat, 20% in gram and 40% in soybean. However, high initial costs deter farmers to adopt this technology. While big farmers can easily avail this technology, the government should consider giving subsidies to small farmers to boost the adoption of this technology.
Further, as A. Vaidyanathan notes, due to populist politics charges, the prices of electricity and diesel oil are far below the actual cost and hence there is over exploitation of groundwater. While Vaidyanathan recommends water charging at actual costs, this may be not possible in the present scenario because of the sensitive nature of the issue and also because of its direct bearing on farm productivity and farmers’ income.
Opening up of the markets
The National Agricultural Policy of 2000 stated that private sector participation will be promoted through contract farming and land leasing arrangements to allow accelerated technology transfer, capital inflow and assured market for crop production. However, there has not been any significant participation by the private sector in agriculture.
One of the major factors that has deterred private players from entering the agricultural sector is the long pending reform of wholesale markets, which are regulated by the Agriculture Produce Management Committee (APMC) Act. The AMPC forces the farmers to sell their produce in government-controlled marketing yards. While the objective of APMC was to regulate markets and increase market yards, it has acted as a major obstacle to private investment.
In 2003, however, the central government mooted a model APMC, but as noted by the task force on agriculture constituted by NITI Aayog, this has not been implemented by many states in east India. Therefore, to increase private sector participation in agriculture, it is imperative to remove these entry barriers.
Further, although the government has launched the National Agriculture Market, which provides farmers an electronic medium to sell their produce anywhere in India, it is yet to be seen whether farmers can actually derive benefits from this platform.
R&D is the future
One of the major barriers to boosting farm productivity is the lack of new technologies and major breakthroughs. While the National Agriculture Research System played a major role in the green revolution, in recent years there hasn’t been any major breakthrough in research. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of financial resources.
If we compare the data of the percentage of agricultural GDP spending on research and development in Asia, then the figures are revealing. While India spent 31% of its agricultural GDP on research and development in 2010, in the same year China spent almost double than amount. Even our neighbour Bangladesh spent 38% of its agricultural GDP on research and development in that year. As a result of this resource crunch there has not been diffusion of new agricultural innovations and practices that is critical for enhancing farm productivity.
Further, there is a lack of interest of students in pursuing research in agriculture. As the Economic Survey notes, even in states where agriculture is relatively more important (as measured by their share of agriculture in state GDP), agriculture education is especially weak if measured by the number of students enrolled in agricultural universities. There has also not been any major contribution from the private sector towards research and development. Government should thus woo private players by giving them incentives to play a major role in agricultural research and development.
Many have cast doubts over the ambition of government to double the income of farmers by 2022. As Ashok Gulati, former chairman of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices notes, doubling of real incomes of farmers would be a “miracle of miracles”, as it would imply a compound growth rate of 12% per annum. Further, IndiaSpendis also skeptical of government ambition as their analysis shows that after adjusting for rising costs, an Indian farmer’s income effectively rose only 5% per year over a decade (2003-2013). All this, in many ways, paints a bleak picture of future of Indian agriculture. If we however want to save the future of our farmers and permanently cure the ills of Indian agriculture, major policy interventions have to be made at the earliest.
Vishavjeet Chaudhary is an assistant professor, and Gursharan Singh is an agriculturist and law student at O.P. Jindal Global University.